GOVERNMENT prosecutors have dismissed the prospect of withdrawing charges against the Shiite leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) Sheikh Ibrahim El Zakzaky saying it is up to the court to determine his fate.
Since December 2015, Sheikh El-Zakzaky has been in detention after being arrested following a clash between his supporters and the Nigerian Army. While in detention, his health has deteriorated, with the sheikh said to have lost one eye and he is also reported to have suffered several mild strokes, leading to calls for his release.
Last year, he was allowed to go to India for medical treatment but after a few days returned as growing disagreements between the IMN and the accompanying Nigerian security meant prevented any operation from going ahead. Iran, the world’s largest Shiite nation has been one of Sheikh El-Zakzaky’s biggest backers and have led the campaign calling for his release.
Over the last few days, Iran and the US have been involved in a war of words following Washington’s decision to assassinate General Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force. General Soleimani was killed in an air strike on the Baghdad International Airport and Iran has promised to avenge his death, which has increased pressure on the Nigerian government to release the IMN leader.
Already, Nigerian Shiites have held a pro-Iran demonstration and over the last week, calls for release of Sheikh El-Zakzaky have intensified, so Nigeria does not get caught up in the US/Iran spat. However, the federal government has said it is the Kaduna State government handling Sheikh £l-Zakzaky’s case, so it is up to them to determine his fate.
However, Aisha Dikko, the Kaduna State attorney-general and justice commissioner, said the fate of Sheikh El Zakzaky is in the hands of the court. She also stressed that there is no pending court order on the case against the IMN leader instituted by the Kaduna state government.
Mrs Dikko said that the ongoing legal processes should not be the subject of a media campaign or pressure of any kind, affirming that the state government has no intention of withdrawing the charges against Sheikh El-Zakzaky. She added that both Sheikh El Zakzaky and his wife Zeenat are facing an eight-count charge, including culpable homicide punishable by death.
“Rulings and orders that were secured against the federal government do not have any bearing against the Kaduna State government, which was not a party to those proceedings and against whom no orders were made. Any issues regarding compliance or non-compliance with a court order by the Department of State Security or the federal government cannot be used to vitiate the judicial proceedings the Kaduna State government has commenced against the El-Zakzakys,” Mrs Diko added.
According to her, others charged to court included Yakubu Yahaya Katsina and Sanusi Abdulkadir Koki for alleged criminal conspiracy, culpable homicide punishable with death and unlawful assembly. Other charges included alleged wrongful restraint, disturbance of public peace and voluntarily causing grievous hurt as well as inciting disturbance and a breach of public peace, she added.